Thursday, 2 June 2016

Classics: Hayley Culverhouse on A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare

A Midsummer Night's Dream is one of my VERY favourite Shakespeare plays! I was really excited when Hayley Culverhouse offered to post about it as part of my irregular classics series, to tie in with the Russell T Davies adaptation shown on the BBC earlier this week (which you can watch NOW on iPlayer!)

For more from Hayley, check out her blog, Twitter and Instagram.

Five reasons to read A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

1. The overall theme of love and attraction.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream has a good handful of arcs throughout the play but a common theme throughout them all is the theme of love and attraction. At the start of the play, Hermia has Lysander and Demetrius in love with her (alright for some… pshhh), Helena is in love with Demetrius but it’s unrequited. Titania, queen of the fairies, is attracted to Bottom, even tho he’s an ass. It’s really interesting to see other people’s interpretations as to what makes a person attractive/unattractive, especially in the scenes with Hermia, Helena, Demetrius and Lysander.

2. The language is pretty straight forward.

In my opinion, A Midsummer Night’s Dream is pretty straight forward to read. It’s one of the easier Shakespeare plays to start with, I’ve found. A Midsummer Night’s Dream is made up of five short acts, which is easier to speed through, rather than five long acts of Hamlet. 

3. There’s a play within the play.

With Midsummer’s first performed around 1595-1596, Shakespeare had already had his fair share of experiences with actors. I like having a theory that this whole plot line was inspired by that. 

4. There’s fairies!

There’s a hidden part of the forest where fairies live. Like if you ever see Midsummer’s on stage, there will be people dressed as fairies prancing on the stage. It’s so great! It’s also great to imagine the scene being presented in your head. 

5. And overall, it’s really, really funny. 

It’s a really fun, lighthearted piece of literature with lines that I would call “proper corkers”. Seriously! My personal favourite is from Lysander in Act I Scene I “You have her father's love, Demetrius. Let me have Hermia's. Do you marry him.” Bottom is also a really funny character, too. I guess the hilarity of the piece is also up to interpretation. Luckily, the BBC have just aired a 90 minute TV Movie of A Midsummer Night’s Dream starring Maxine Peake & Elaine Paige and directed by Russell T. Davies!

1 comment:

  1. Ooh, I wonder if that BBC play will be available in DVD? I've seen so many versions of it over the years, on stage and film. The most recent one, with Kevin Kline as Bottom, was utterly magical! And Bottom, with just a few visuals, was developed as a mortal who has one fantastical night in Fairyland, which he will never forget.

    I once had to explain The Dream to a secondary school drama class who were about to study it. That made me realise what a complicated story it really is... I ended up writing the various couples and connections on the whiteboard so they could see. "Well, these two are an item, but this one fancies her, only Helena, who used to go out with him, still loves him and..."